Child's, The English And Scottish Ballads

Volume 3 of 8 from 1860 edition -online book

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EARL RICHARD.                               9
The maiden touch'd the clay-cauld corpse,
A drap it never bled ; The ladye laid her hand on him,
And soon the ground was red.
Out they hae ta'en her, may Catherine, ns
And put her mistress in ; The flame tuik fast upon her cheik,
Tuik fast upon her chin ; Tuik fast upon her faire bodyŚ
She burn'd like hollin-green.                      120
120. The lines immediately preceding, " The maiden touched," &c, and which are restored from tradition, refer to a superstition formerly received in most parts of Europe, and even resorted to by judicial authority, for the discovery of murder. In Germany, this experiment was called bahr-rechl, or the law of the bier; because, the murdered body being stretched upon a bier, the suspected person was obliged to put one hand upon the wound and the other upon the mouth of the deceased, and, in that posture, call upon heaven to attest his innocence. If, during this ceremony, the blood gushed from the mouth, nose, or wound, a circumstance not unlikely to happen in the course of shifting or stirring the body, it was held sufficient evidence of the guilt of the party. Soott.

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III